CIO: FBI will focus on info sharing in 2006

Sentinel, a case file system the FBI is developing, is one of several information technology projects getting under way in 2006, according to Zalmai Azmi, the FBI's chief information officer.

The bureau started developing Sentinel in May 2005 after pulling the plug on the $170 million Virtual Case File system. VCF was never deployed because of ongoing cost and schedule overruns. It was part of the FBI's Trilogy program to modernize the bureau’s obsolete computer systems.

Azmi said he would like to award the Sentinel contract in late January or early February. The first phase would start soon after and the second phase up to six months after the first. Ideally, the first phase would be complete 12 months after the contract is awarded, he said.

Another initiative Azmi is moving forward on involves adding four Regional Data Exchanges (R-DExs) to the three that already exist. An R-DEx provides an interface that allows all levels of law enforcement to analyze complicated case file information and other data to fight terrorism and crime.

The FBI also wants to create a National Data Exchange (N-DEx), Azmi said. Much like it sounds, N-DEx is an index to structured data at the federal, state and local levels.

Vance Hitch, CIO of the Justice Department, said he expects to issue a procurement for N-DEx this year. Getting 50 states to agree on it will be difficult because information-sharing laws vary by state, he added.

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